The Cimalian Princess: Clone
by AJ Marks
Randy stopped in front of Meia’s door and hesitated for a second before knocking. Finally getting over his insecurity he knocked while hoping she wasn’t in despite feeling slightly silly for thinking such a thought. He thought it would be nice if he asked her to dinner, after all their relationship seemed to head in a direction of becoming closer, or so he hoped.
“Just a sec,” a voice said from behind the door.
“All right,” Randy replied, now having to calm himself enough to talk to her and not seem like some teenager with their first crush.
Seconds later the door opened to reveal Meia, whose wet hair gave her the appearance of someone who just stepped out of the shower, but wore her familiar flight suit indicating she had some time to make herself presentable.
“Come in,” she said to him, moving aside to allow Randy to enter her quarters.
“We should be leaving in thirty minutes,” Randy said to her, turning around to face her again.
“Not wasting any time on this mission, are we,” Meia replied back to him.
“No, it was decided to be quick, otherwise any intelligence we have gained could become obsolete,” he said watching as Meia seemed to understand what he was saying.
“Makes sense, what part of the plan is first?” Meia asked.
“That’s where you come in, I think you should be on the bridge when we first arrive. I don’t think its wise to have you in a fighter where someone can take pop-shots at you,” Randy said. “Losing you would be tragic to the mission success.”
“If you think that’s wise, but what happens when they don’t listen to what I say?’ Meia asked giving an indication she thought they wouldn’t.
“Then we’ll make that up when it comes up,” Randy finally said, hoping it didn’t come to that. He held out hope something else might happen.
“If I’m not going to be using my fighter I guess I shouldn’t check on it then,” Meia stated.
“Only if you think you can’t persuade the people to our side, do what you feel is right,” Randy said before recalling why he was really there. “How about dinner after this mission?”
“Well, anything can happen, but why not,” Meia said thinking about the answer for a few seconds.
“Good, and maybe when this is all over you can wear that dress when we have dinner,” Randy said, recalling how good she looked in it.
“Perhaps,” Meia replied back to him, a bit shyly.
“Ah, I’ll let you continue your preparations then,” Randy said, saying good-by and walking out of her room. The door closed and he made his way to the elevator once more wondering about Meia before walking on board. “Maybe I’m overworked.”
“What skipper?” a voice said causing him to jump slightly.
He looked over his shoulder to see John standing there. “Geez, you always sneak up on people?”
“Didn’t have to, you almost walked me over when you got on board, oh, you really want to head to the hanger?” John asked looking down at the destinations.
“What? Oh hades,” Randy replied rubbing his temple.
“What’s up?” John asked looking at Randy
“Nothing, well, I don’t know,” Randy replied unsure he could explain it. “I think, well it’s a feeling, perhaps its too much work and I need a rest”
“Gotta be a woman, only a woman can make you so confused,” John said almost logically.
“Is it possible for a woman to change?” Randy asked.
“What?” John replied back with confusion in his voice which echoed Randy’s own confusion of the topic.
“I mean, it’s Meia, it seems like her attitude continues to change lately, is it me? Have I changed somehow?” Randy asked looking for a second opinion.
“Don’t think so, to either of you, you might be working too hard on this,” John said. “Also, from what I’ve heard, this plan is probably causing a lot of stress for Meia. Look at her, she’s gone from the bottom to the top with no education or time to absorb such changes.”
“You think we’re pushing her too hard them?” Randy asked, something he secretly thought they were doing.
“I don’t know, I’m only a pilot, but you can be supportive of her, that’s probably the best thing,” John said stepping off the elevator at the hanger. “I’m not too worried, he said Meia seems a bit more normal lately, going and inspecting her fighter, actually talking with him.”
“Well, if she’s acting normal, perhaps it was a bit of nerves and such,” Randy said, feeling slightly better watching as the doors closed. He pushed for the bridge with the thought to check on the fleet and how the schedule was going.
Meia waited to see what type of reaction Carl would have to her admission. She saw nothing from the man that might show rejection, instead he appeared to be thinking about what she said.
“And how do you know this? Is it provable,” he asked her, a reasonable question she would have under different circumstances.
“I grew up living a lie, thinking the Alliance killed my mother. My uncle kept a close eye on me, even visiting me several times when locked up,” Meia replied recalling the visits so well causing a cold fear to grip her, something her uncle had programmed her to do.
“He visited you, and what was he doing visiting you all this time?” Carl asked. “Why not just make you the heir?”
“He detests the lower classes, like my mother, he would never accept me as the heir,” Meia said. “They might have been taking samples of my DNA,” she finally said recalling meeting a clone of herself.
Carl sat back thinking about everything Meia said, and she waited with nowhere else to go. The door opening caused her to jump, gripping her weapon in reflex to what could be a surprise attack. Instead a woman with salt and pepper hair walked into the room stopping short at the sight of Meia sitting in the apartment glancing at her then over at Carl.
“This is Trina’s friend, Meia,” Carl said introducing her to Meia before turning to Meia. “This is my wife, Ewa.”
Ewa closed the door and made her way into the room not taking her eyes off Meia making her uncomfortable until the woman finally sad down on the bed. “So, you’re the one who has everything turned upside down outside?”
“What do you mean?” Carl asked clearly confused by the statement, but Meia understood.
“The enforcers are out in numbers, more than I’ve ever seen especially near the genetics lab,” Ewa answered him. “They’ve been asking anyone if they’ve seen anyone acting unusual lately.”
“It seems my uncle doesn’t want me free,” Meia replied.
“So, you’re the project the emperor is working on,” Ewa said. “I heard about some sort of project he is working on that will help the empire in winning the war against the Alliance.”
“The Alliance isn’t a threat,” Meia said automatically not even realizing she said it but automatically defending the Alliance against the lies the Empire said. She knew more now considering she had lived with the people of the Alliance for several months and been treated so much better than she ever had been in the Empire.
“We know that, it’s all propaganda anyways,” Carl replied.
“I understand,” Meia said.
“If you really are Boris’ daughter, then the rebellion might finally have something which can really help us in the fight against the emperor,” Ewa said.
“Rebellion?” Meia asked, she had never heard of anything organized against the emperor.
“Been going on for decades now, trying to one day overthrow the emperor. Up until the move we had been growing, many were homeless and were lost in the move,” Ewa replied.
“Can they get me back to the Alliance,” Meia asked gaining some hope of getting back home.
“We can barely keep spies right now, getting you to the Alliance might be suicide,” Carl said.
“I can’t help you or the rebellion much from here, my uncle controls too many resources,” Meia said thinking about it all.
“What if we went to the leaders with this information?” Ewa asked finally. “It might be the push needed to get them to do something.”
“It could be the only hope we have,” Meia said looking between the two as Carl seemed to think about it for several seconds.
“It might backfire as well, there are spies in the rebellion, we all know it,” Carl finallys aid.
“It’s a chance I must take,” Meia said, knowing action was better than hiding.
“If you’re up for it, I’ll take you,” Carl finally said.
“First, you need some new clothes,” Ewa said looking Meia’s outfit over. “Then I think we can make it to the rebellion without too many problems.”
“You’ll be able to evade the enforcers?” Meia asked.
“Not all enforcers are on the emperor’s side,” Carl said with a smile, offering the first real sign of hope. She might finally have way off this planet.
“We should move quickly,’ Ewa said, motioning for Meia to come with her. “I think I’ve got something that might fit you.”
Meia followed Carl and Ewa as they moved quickly through the streets dressed in an outfit which blended in better with what others wore. They left heading in a different direction with each turn and Meia had no idea where they were headed having gotten lost early on before finally arriving at an unassuming apartment complex. She understood that unassuming was a perfect place to hide.
They entered and Meia felt a bit of surprise at the number of people inside, standing in the hallways. She said nothing but returned their curious stares. Meia figured they were guards, or homeless, probably a combination of the two in the building, a good cover, but also full of spies.
Meia stopped as Carl and Ewa stopped in front of a couple of people and waited to see what happened next.
“This is important,” Carl said as Meia heard some of the conversation between the guard and Carl.
“We don’t bring strangers, you know that Carl,” the guard stated.
“And she can do more than we’ve done in decades,” Carl replied back to him.
“We still have rules Carl, you kow that,” the man replied back not budging.
Meia watched the interaction between the two and she could understand why her uncle wasn’t concerned with the rebellion. They seemed hesitant to do anything, change or even move forward when presented with something news. They were as stuck in the cycle as her uncle was.
“I you wish to remain a slave to the social class system then do nothing,” Meia finally said gathering the courage to speak out, reaching for the core she had developed as part of the crew of the Akagi. Everyone seemed surprised she spoke, looking at her then at the guard.
“You know nothing of our fight, our struggles,” the man finally said.
“No!” she replied back quickly confronting the man, seeing what Randy and Jack and others in the Alliance would want her to do. She stepped forward until she was inches away from the man. “You know nothing of my fight, my life, my pain or happiness.”
“Pain?” another man said sarcasm tinting his words. “I lost two sons already in this invasion against the Alliance when the 3rd CF lost that last battle.”
“Most of those deaths were caused by the ships own captains ordering the ships to self-destruct,” Meia replied back to him.
“And how would you know that?” the man asked.
“I was there,” Meia replied knowing a lot of good people died that day. “I saw the traitor, Admiral Jezic, my former commander give the order to destroy the Kitakim. And one of my own betrayed me in a previous battle, a Beta, Olin.”
“I heard a traitor made it possible for the fleet to be destroyed,” another person said as everyone became interested in the conversation.
“The only traitor is the Emperor, or should I saw my uncle who stole the throne and killed my father,” Meia replied. “There are many survivors of the fleet still alive and living in the Alliance, and they all prefer it there over here.”
“Hold, this discussion is for sensitive ears, not one held in public,” a shorter man said approaching them. Meia noticed he had an air of someone in command and realized he had to be a leader of the rebellion. “Follow me, we’ll continue this is a more suitable environment.”
Meia quietly followed hoping she would get somewhere with someone who might actually listen. So far her impression of the man was mixed, he seemed like he would listen, but would he actually do something, that was the bigger question she had yet to answer.
End part 22